Sleep and Angelman Syndrome

Quick Overview

Sleep challenges are common in individuals with Angelman Syndrome. The sleep architecture in Angelman Syndrome is different from typical sleep patterns, with shorter and more fragmented sleep cycles. Common sleep problems include frequent nighttime awakenings, difficulty falling asleep, and resistance to bedtime. It is important to establish a consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine. Melatonin can be used as a sleep aid, but it should be used with caution and under medical supervision. Other medications may be considered for specific sleep problems. It is also important to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to sleep difficulties. Overall, managing sleep challenges in Angelman Syndrome requires a comprehensive approach that includes behavioral strategies and, if necessary, medication.


In this talk, we will discuss the sleep challenges faced by individuals with Angelman Syndrome. Jane Fan, from UNC Chapel Hill, will provide an overview of the medical aspects of sleep in Angelman Syndrome, while Amanda Tourjee, a nurse practitioner at Mass General Hospital for Children, will discuss behavior therapy as a management strategy for sleep conditions in Angelman Syndrome.

Sleep Architecture

Sleep architecture refers to the different stages of sleep that individuals go through during the night. In typical sleep architecture, there are four or five cycles of sleep, each lasting around 90 minutes. However, in individuals with Angelman Syndrome, the sleep architecture is different. Their sleep cycles are shorter and more fragmented, with reduced amounts of certain sleep stages such as N2 sleep and REM sleep.

Common Sleep Problems in Angelman Syndrome

Parents of individuals with Angelman Syndrome often report sleep concerns for their children. These concerns can include frequent nighttime waking, sleep-wake cycle disturbances, nighttime behaviors, and the risk of sleep apnea. Sleep problems can have a significant impact on the psychological well-being of parents and can also affect neurocognitive development and behavior in individuals with Angelman Syndrome.

Managing Sleep Problems

To improve sleep in individuals with Angelman Syndrome, it is important to address any underlying medical complications, establish a consistent sleep schedule, and implement behavioral strategies. Medical management options may include the use of melatonin, which can help regulate sleep-wake cycles. Behavioral strategies may involve creating a safe and conducive sleep environment, implementing a bedtime routine, and setting clear bedtime rules. Medications may also be considered, but their use should be carefully evaluated and monitored.


Sleep challenges are common in individuals with Angelman Syndrome, and addressing these challenges is crucial for their overall well-being and development. By understanding the unique sleep architecture in Angelman Syndrome and implementing appropriate management strategies, parents and healthcare professionals can help improve sleep quality and duration in individuals with this condition.

Talk details

  • Title: Sleep and Angelman syndrome
  • Author(s): Jane (Zheng) Fan, Amanda Tourjee
  • Author(s)’ affiliation: UNC; Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Publication date: 2021-08-11
  • Collection: 2021 ASF Virtual Family Conference